execute justice

“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness'” (Jeremiah 33:15, 16).

They thought it meant a king on a throne, this promised Branch for David, handing out judgments, punishing evildoers in the execution of justice and modeling and encouraging a righteousness of which prosperity would be the reward. They imagined pomp and glory: their oppressors turned out of the palaces, the invaders fleeing pell-mell, chariot wheels flying, tents discarded. Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands, and how many more will this promised one slay?

They thought, perhaps, that righteousness would be easier then, when their fortunes were restored, when their captivity was ended, when Jerusalem was made “a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth” (Jer. 33:9).


But the justice was executed against the righteous Branch, and it did not look like glory and joy. He healed our diseases, wore our dirt, ate of our food and breathed our air, yet so far were we from righteous that we helped him to his death: he sat on no earthly throne, but hung, gasping, on a cross: justice and righteousness.

“The LORD is our righteousness” is no figurative name, as we might have thought, signifying that we behave righteously because we belong to the LORD, but proclaims a literal fact. Our righteousness, the only righteousness we have, is not our righteousness at all; we did not, could not produce it. It is his, and he gives it to us. Our salvation rests on this rather than anything we can do.

And, lest this offends us, lest we want to be free of it, lest we think we can, by our own efforts, cease to require his righteousness, or by our own failings lose his promised salvation, he seals it with his long-demonstrated faithfulness:

“Thus says that LORD, ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne . . . ‘” (Jeremiah 33:20, 21).

Go ahead, he seems to say, just try to stop the inevitable turning of day and night, just try to break their cycle. You may break yourself, but you shall not change these which in the beginning I named “Day” and “Night.” Even so, nothing you can do can stop my keeping the promise of salvation which I made. 

With as much certainty as morning changes to noon, noon to evening, evening to midnight — with such certainty God will send his salvation to his people, and we will be saved.

The day that justice was executed upon the righteous Branch, God darkened the sun, making night of day for a brief space. But though he died, he lives again.

Against God’s “Let there be light,” there is no argument. He is throned now, forever, at God’s right hand, in all the authority of salvation completed. And when he returns, when all things are made new, night itself shall be no more.


©2014 by Stacy Nott

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